Is The Press Release Dead?
In the sixth lesson of this course, we’ll talk about press releases and find out if they can still be useful in the digital age.
The short answer? Okay, you guessed it: YES. Let’s see why.
Press Release 101
The main purpose of a press release is to announce something, right? Something that’s newsworthy and likely to spark interest and be shared by people.
So, what makes for a good press release?
1. It’s newsworthy. A press release is about news; it should tell about something interesting that has happened, is happening, or is going to happen. So, even if there’s no real news, make it newsworthy. Tell it from an interesting perspective. What elements can you highlight to bring some originality?
2. Answer the “5Ws” of journalism—the who-what-when-where-why—and do so in the first paragraph. You need to give all the basic information in a couple of sentences and leave all the details for later. First things first!
3. Have a “journalistic” style: clear, to the point, detached, with an objective perspective. Don’t be salesy. And write in third person; if your company is releasing a new product, don’t write, “Our new product,” but rather, “Xyz’s new product.”
4. Use active verbs. For example, instead of saying, “New product X by company Y to be released,” say, “Y releases its new product, X.”
5. Craft a clear, interesting, and powerful headline.
6. Provide data, numbers, and statistics if you have them.
7. Use one or two quotes to inject some life.
8. Keep it short; around 15-20 lines is best.
9. Sentences should be short as well. Like this one.
10. Close your press release with some background information. This works especially well when the subject of your press release is not so popular—e.g. you first talked about how product X is going to be dramatically improved, so now say when it was first released, what it has achieved over time, etc.
11. Provide high-quality photos.
12. Insert your contact information. (Yes, some people forget that.)
13. Spell check. (Some forget this too!)
These are the key elements of a solid press release. Now, although times have changed, the press release is still a good way to start conversations about your brand. How can we tweak a press release to make it effective online?
What we’ve just said about the classic press release is still valid. We just need a few more things. Here are a few specific guidelines for your digital press release:
1. Use relevant keywords. What are people more likely to type? Your press release will get shared on the web, so keywords matter just as they do on a webpage.
2. Use anchor links to drive people to your site (like this one) . . .
3. . . . And provide links to pages where people can get more information (like this one: www.gohighbrow.com).
4. Bold important words to highlight what matters the most. Make understanding as fast as possible, because people’s attention span on the internet is short.
5. Include share buttons, so people can share your digital press release via email and social networks. Also, share it yourself, too, on your social media pages, blog, website, etc.
6. Include a link to download photos rather than attaching them to email.
7. When you send your email, don’t use CC or BCC. Ideally, you should write to one person at a time (yes, one person at a time). If that’s not possible, at the very least, use an email marketing service (like Mailchimp or Aweber) where you can segment your recipient list and target only those who will find your content relevant.
We have learned how to write a great press release, what the guidelines are for writing on the web, and how to craft a digital press release. In the next two lessons, we’ll discover how to reach out in the best way to the people who will help us spread the word.
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